Going by all indications, the coalition between Nitish Kumar’s JDU and BJP in Bihar does not look stable enough to sustain itself in the long run. BJP should start looking for a face to replace Nitish Kumar at the helm of affairs. Currently, it is believed that BJP does not have a face as credible among Bihar’s populace as Nitish Kumar, so they are not pushing for his removal.
It is only a matter of time before BJP unloads a massive burden called Nitish Kumar. Before that, a wise move will be to prepare for a backup plan in case of a leadership crisis. Here are 4 leaders we believe BJP should be grooming if they are serious about removing Nitish Kumar.
One of the favourites of Hajipur, Nityanand Rai, is currently handling the portfolio of Minister of State for Home Affairs in the Modi government. This comes on the back of his successive victories in the 2014 and 2019 general elections from the Ujiarpur seat. Before coming to the Indian parliament, Rai represented Hajipur in Bihar Legislative assembly from 2000 to 2014.
Nityanand has been connected to RSS for 40 years. He has offered a severe challenge to RJD, claiming to be the sole representative of Yadavs in Bihar. Under Nityanand’s fold, BJP will have an opportunity to galvanise Yadavs and other OBC vote banks. He is a widely acknowledged face among all identity groups prevailing in Bihar.
Normally when a young leader emerges to be a promising aspect, he/she is given a tough time by established veterans as old-timers consider youth as a sign of immaturity. Add to that a female growing up in a society where women had to stay inside due to eminent risk on their lives in Jungle Raj of Lalu Prasad Yadav. Shreyasi Singh ticks all these boxes and still has a legitimate support base in both the young and old generations.
Shreyasi Singh is MLA from Jamui district. More so, she is a podium finisher in Shooting. In the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Singh won a silver medal in shooting. Upgrading this, she returned with Gold in the 2018 Games. All these successes, along with fabulous educational background, translated into Shreyasi being offered a BJP candidature in the 2020 Bihar assembly elections from Jamui. She was victorious and is currently serving the constituency.
One of the key pillars of Nitish’s fame in Bihar is his pro-women policy; women vote in large numbers for him due to his alcohol ban and promotion of women’s education. Shreyasi Singh can easily replace Nitish Kumar in this aspect. Moreover, her belonging to a family of politicians ensures that she is well versed with the nitty and gritty of politics and policy-making. She is the daughter of Digvijay Singh, former Union Minister and Putul Kumari, former MP from Banka.
Patience in the wake of political hullabaloo is one of the key features of Prem Kumar. His more than 40 years of public service is a testament to that. Kumar’s public acceptance can be gauged from the fact that he is representing the Gaya Town assembly constituency for the eighth time. At a time when Baahubali leaders were winning assembly seats on the back of them representing the backward class in society, Prem Kumar focussed on uplifting the backward class through education.
Kumar holds a PHD from Magadh University. His legitimacy in Gaya forced BJP to promote him for further responsibilities. From 2005 onward, Prem Kumar has held four ministerships during the NDA government in Bihar. His credibility only increased with further responsibility as when BJP was ousted from power in 2015, Kumar was selected as leader of opposition in the Legislative assembly. Kumar also fits in the narrative of identity politics as he is a formidable galvanising force of OBC as well as EBC (Economically backward class) in the state.
If there is one leader, who is established and has the potential to counter RJD’s M-Y (Muslim-Yadav) equation, then it is Syed Shahnawaz Hussain. Hussain can easily be called the most non-controversial youth leader of India. He had proved his mettle at the tender political age of 33, when he was given the responsibility of textile and civil aviation by Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Shahnawaz has been representing the Bhagalpur constituency in the Indian parliament. Recently, he has shifted his focus towards state politics, and in 2021, he was elected to Bihar legislative council. Within one month, he was appointed as Minister of Industries of the Government of Bihar.
Shahnawaz is a Muslim who has not shown any proclivity towards Muslim appeasement politics. His elevation as a candidature can help BJP secure the Seemanchal area of Bihar. Moreover, his acceptance as an administratively efficient leader will ensure that BJP does not lose its core vote-bank.
Politics is a dynamic business. To succeed in the long run, political parties have to keep rediscovering themselves. Unfortunately, Nitish Kumar’s failures have outlived his Sushashan Babu legacy. It’s time BJP should groom leaders before it’s too late for the people of Bihar.